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Dicker: SolarCity Set to Shine as First Solar Absorbs More Heat

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I was talking today to Joe Deaux about two solar stocks headed in opposite directions: First Solar (FSLR - Get Report) and SolarCity (SCTY - Get Report). Of the two, I happen to prefer the one that has recently been headed downwards, SolarCity.

First Solar has continued to ride a wave of success in large-scale utility installations of solar power, up 58% in 2013. This has been historically where First Solar has made the lion's share of its revenue. Recently, it has guided very well for 2014 and 2015 and was upgraded by two analysts, causing the rocket move on Tuesday.

However, as utilities are meeting their mandated renewable percentage goals, the growth of large-scale solar production will necessarily slow. While some opportunities for new large projects are on the horizon in the UK and in Australia, the drying up of subsidies in the rest of Europe also bodes poorly for continued parabolic revenue growth.

First Solar has made a goal of diversifying its production towards industrial rooftop installations, but that refocusing will not make up for the loss of big projects that are the core of First Solar's business model.

Not so for SolarCity, which has been riding the wave of increased domestic installation of solar panels, at least until all the momentum stocks took a major hit in the last two weeks of trading. But the trend in solar is clearly defined by the move away from large-scale projects and towards the individual homeowner's rooftop. In this trend, SolarCity has by far the smartest and most painless initiation to increasing home sales.

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Measuring these two stocks side by side is hardly easy as First Solar is a much more traditional-looking value opportunity with a forward P/E of 15, while SolarCity is a high beta name with a practically immeasurable Price/Earnings multiple.

Despite all this, I much prefer SolarCity as a way to play the growing solar market here in the U.S.

While there are limitations to First Solar's Cadmium Telluride technology and large-scale project possibilities, the opportunities in home rooftop panels is really in its infancy and SolarCity has not only the fast track but almost the only track to it. This dip in momentum names strikes me as an opportunity to buy SolarCity.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

Dan Dicker has been a floor trader at the New York Mercantile Exchange with more than 25 years of oil trading experience. He is a licensed commodities trade adviser.

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